Bat­man star Tom on trail of ele­phant poach­ers

Midweek Sport - - CLASSIFIED - By JON LIVESEY

TOUGH guy ac­tor Tom Hardy plays vi­o­lent crim­i­nals, gang­ster and cage­fight­ers but noth­ing could pre­pare him for his ele­phant en­coun­ters in his lat­est TV show.

Hardy played no­to­ri­ous pris­oner Charles Bron­son in Bron­son and Bat­man’s arch neme­sis Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

The 35-year-old also beefed up con­sid­er­ably for his role as Mixed Mar­tial Arts fighter Tommy Rior­dan in 2011 movie War­rior.

But his lat­est ITV pro­ject, Poach­ing Wars With Tom Hardy, has seen him travel to Africa to un­cover the truth about why the thiev­ing of ele­phants and rhi­nos has reached cri­sis point.

In the two-part se­ries, which gets un­der way on ITV1 Thurs­day night, he meets a bloke who’s train­ing ele­phants to track poach­ers, so that the hunted be­come the hunter.

For one ex­per­i­ment, Tom agrees to hide in the bush to put the ele­phants’ skills to the test, and gets a fright when a big beast called Toshura finds him.

Af­ter­wards, he said: “Wow, I’ve never been that close to an ele­phant be­fore. I do a lot of things in my life, but I think that has gen­uinely just blown me right away.”

Tom, who starts his our­ney in South Africa, said: “I have a love for Africa’s mag­nif­i­cent an­i­mals. So I find it hard to stom­ach the poach­ing cri­sis sweep­ing the con­ti­nent and push­ing th­ese amaz­ing an­i­mals to the edge of ex­tinc­tion.

“With­out doubt the rhino and the ele­phant are fac­ing ex­tinc­tion well within our life­time and the war on poach­ing is be­ing lost. I’m mak­ing th­ese doc­u­men­taries be­cause it’s some­thing prac­ti­cal I can do.”

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